Several weeks ago I dug around in my cookbooks and online in a fruitless hunt for a cranberry muffin recipe that was oil-based and wasn't orange flavored. (My mother's cranberry-orange bread recipe, which I grew up on and love, calls for shortening. I just don't bake with shortening if I can avoid it, and I haven't taken the time to convert her recipe. I'm afraid other cranberry-orange recipes would fall short of the mark set by her classic.)
I ended up depleting my stash of cranberries by baking a some cranberry coffeecakes (which I loved). Of course right after I used up my last fresh cranberries I saw some enticing Zucchini and Cranberry muffins (a recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook) on two of my favorite blogs: The Food Librarian and Meet Me in the Kitchen. The muffins looked so good, and met all my criteria. I wasn't too optimistic about finding cranberries in February, but I checked around at a few stores, and, lo and behold! I was able to locate frozen cranberries at Fresh Market. I scooped up a few bags and was ready for February's Muffin of the Month (m.o.m.) for my mom!
- You can find the recipe at either (or both) of the blogs linked above.
- I love any recipe with shredded zucchini that doesn't make me squeeze the moisture out! Seriously, is there really a worse job in the kitchen? Well, squeezing frozen spinach is a bit worse.
- I substituted 2/3 cup of white whole wheat flour for the all purpose flour.
- For oil, I used extra light tasting olive oil; I love baking with that oil, because it's a monounsaturated fat.
- I added 1/4 tsp lime juice to the liquids. Lemon would probably have been my first choice, but I had a cut lime in the fridge. Of course orange would be the classic, but I was looking for something different.
- Instead of extract I used vanilla paste. Although I usually substitute equal amounts, it might have been a little intense for this recipe.
- This was my first time using cranberries that were frozen when packaged. I've often put a bag of fresh cranberries in the freezer, but these seemed to fare better than mine, which sometimes get mushy - these were just about as crisp as fresh ones.
- I cut the cranberries in half because I love the way they look like little wagon wheels. Also, that size gives a nice hit of cranberry tartness.
- The muffins came together quickly. I spooned the batter into 10 individual silicone muffin cups (the recipe's stated yield). They rose nicely in the oven. I baked them at 360 degrees for about 27 minutes
- The sugar forms a crunchy sweet crust on the top of these muffins as they cook.
The muffins have a nice soft crumb and a lovely vanilla flavor. They're definitely a muffin, rather than a cake in disguise. Even so, they were just a little on the sweet side for my taste. I think I'd try to cut the sugar and increase the cranberries and the citrus presence - probably using lemon and lemon zest next time.
My mom loved these muffins just as they are!